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Hector Minto

ACT! (Accessible Communication Today!) by European Platform and Microsoft

Velotypist transcript:

Now we’ll move forward in our agenda. And I’m very excited to welcome Hector Minto. Who is the senior accessibility evangelist. I would like to welcome you to the stage. Briefly before you come up, we will show you a quick video. And then Hector will join us afterwards. Thank you very much.

Mr. Hector Minto: So, good morning everyone. Good afternoon.
My name is Hector Minto. Great to have you at Microsoft. My role is to spread the word of accessibility within Microsoft.. Also to engage externally. That video is a perfect example. How many of us think about engaging with our audiences and making sure everything we create is done in accessible way? If we can get this to land at Microsoft, we can get it to land with all the customers, the schools. And we hopefully start to raise the accessibility is even a subject that people should be interested in. My first slide.
Do we have a clicker? Thank you.
I didn’t get the instructions.
What helps me in my role to spread the word of accessibility is the definition of desability. Focusing away of a personal health condition and moving to a mismatch in human interaction. It is better to focus on someone cannot see something, rather than blind. It is important issues to get across.
Microsoft has been doing accessibility for a long time. The main challenge is the solutions available. We also talk about the 3 different types of disability. Thiss going to be key to be spreading it wider. Spreading the tools that we are building in the products and services and making sure they reach wider.
How many people in the audience would know how to help the person on the first slide here? The person has 1 arm. How would we help that person to type 1 handed? How many people would know the solution to do that? Since 1995 we have sticky keys in Windows. If you press the right key on the keyboard. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Then you can do 1 key at a time.
How many people knew that? A show of hands? 2. And the 2 people I thought would know. Let’se take it a step forward.
When one breaks their arm needs to be able to type. Sticky keys could be used by that person. The numbers there are huge. The number of people with temporary disability are huge. Then we will find the person with the permanent disability. The person who breaks their, arm. The next time they think, I’ll type 1 handed. The challenge is not the technology. It is absolutely people find the technologies available.
The other main thing we are trying to focus on, 70% of disabilities are invisible. The best example there is something like dyslexia. When we show slides or share materials. How we make sure the people can read the materials? We spend a lot of time building in screen reading for a much larger audience than people who are blind. How many of us benefit from having subtitles?, how many of us know how to put subtitles in the Powerpoint presentation? Assuming 70% have a disability and may not be able to consume your presentation, what we try to do is drive this message forward. The tools are there, simple to find. And with a bit of education you can move forward.
The concept is a key focus for us. You have to remember, a lot of people within an organisation don’t realise they care about disability. 1 in 6 people in the organisation will have some kind of disability. Actually, when we engage with the business leaders, the service leaders, the people who are trying to win government contracts. When you make the point. That accessibility tools are something people are interested in and raise the productivity of an organisation, people get interested and find out about it.
I’d like to put my flashing wheelchair icon behind me on. For years and years Microsoft has been engaged in accessibility. What we try to do is build a special set of accessibility. It is in the ease of access center. If you don’t consider yourself to have a disability, you won’t find that setting. You don’t look in the disability section. We have learned, having this special section is important for the people who have been there. It will remain. We are starting to see the settings are not being sold as disability solutions. Just suggested as personalisation. We move to the model of true inclusion. Rather than an integration model.
So most of you will be aware of the ease of access center. That’s where you find the key features. Let’s look further.
At this point I’d like to introduce the subject of Artificial Intelligence. We have a huge opportunity. It is landing first at Microsoft in the field of accessibility. Most of the features that we see where people are seeing the power of AI are framed around disability solutions. This quote. We want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences. Rather than thinking in terms of human vs machine, we want to focus on how human gifts such as creativity, empathy, emotion, physicality and insight can be mixed with powerful AI computation. You’d find your role in that statement. AI in terms of building a bridge to make everybody more productive. That’s where the real opportunity sits. Actually innovating around disability is a huge opportunity for all of us to find solutions. The next big solutions for all. The touch screen, eye caze, voice controlled computers were all in the disability field first and now they are normal for people in their computing day.
So, you are my champions. I’m going through settings. Not demo each one. Think about these things. And how you can make them work in every meeting and interaction. And actually make yourself more productive. How you can champion in your own organisations. When we talk about accessibility, we have a conversation about productivity. When we make somebody more productive by listening to an email, rather than reading it, that’s a great productivity message.
Some things I want to focus on e here. New things.
Powerpoint has subtitles. We are lucky here to be supported by somebody captioning. You can have captioning in every meeting. Using cloud subtitles. There is a plug in, Presentation translator. At the start of the meeting, you’d be presented with a QR code or URL. You can have the words translated into over 60 languages at the same time. At the end of the meeting, you can then save your text. And share it for the person who writes the minutes.
Who would not choose to use this in this diverse global world.
Or where we need more productivity. Having the minutes at the end of every presentation that we give.
Powerpoint supports subtitles. Somebody said, it is small things going forward. Until recently Powerpoint didn’t support captioning. It now supports it.
This is partly because of Jenny championing the field of disability.
There is the translation slide. You can see that’s available on your iPhone. We love Apple products. I should say that out loud. In accessibility. We love Apple products. Somebody can have subtitles on their watch. On their phone. Somebody can speak into it. It is available as a website, a standalone. And available in Powerpoint. Perhaps more importantly in terms of workplace experience is available in Stream. Businesses want their own inhouse Youtube. All of the video materials we produce. If we ask the audience at Microsoft they put subtitles on every video. Unfortunately it won’t happen. That’s the same with social media. We rely on Youtube and Facebook to do that. We have a generator in Stream that is available with the businesses. Every video, we have the transcription using AI.
If you don’t care about disability, why would you go for this?
It means that I can search for anything, anybody said in any video in my organisation. Before I go to Brussels, I can actually go to the video repository, key word Brussels. It takes me not to the title of the video, not the tags on that video but all the video’s where someone mentions Brussels. It is a productivity win there.
As I said, we now do subtitles. The other thing I think people don’t recognize is, you can do webcam recording straight into your slides. Actually using, taking a video of an interpreter and putting it into your materials is easy to do.
Do you want to change?
– Yes.

So, let’s get back to the subject of general ignorance of what we have available. How many people knew about the disability answer desk? It is taking 400.000 calls a year. From people with disabilities in the world, having problems with their tech.
While they are there, we are showing what is new. This is more widely used in the US than in Europe. We only offer American sign language at the moment and text phone on top of that. It is available everywhere. The challenge now is to build awareness of it, build audience and then justify having technicians, not interpreters, who sign. Available on video phone to people all around the world. To allow them to get more productive.
Next slide.
I wanted to tell you about artificial intelligence landing in other features. Magnification. Everyone knows how to magnify on the phone. Does everybody know how to do it on Windows? Windows key plus. This was a blocky unpleasant experience. It would blow up. We use AI to smooth the edges. It is a really high quality experience. We have color filters for people who are color blind. When we raise the topic of disability in any organisation, school, bank, office, color blindness is the easiest disability to tackle. You say, is there anybody here color blind? Maybe some people here? No one? At least 1 in every audience. We show them quickly how we can color filter. Automatic alt text. The text read out earlier. Built in Screenreader is invested in heavily. They are not just making it as good as the third party software. What we do is using AI, so that any image can be described using machine learning. You can call to the internet and say: What is in the photo and the internet will tell you.
I am going to push on. I have another video to show you.
Cognition. Many people when they are presented with a text based world. This would include people of all types. Who have English as second language. People with dyslexia. Or people who have illiteracy. Every website can be read aloud by right clicking and reading aloud. With highlighting for people who are dyslexic. It reads aloud. This was launched in October. We have 5.5 million monthly users. They are not all disabled. That’s impossible to think that.
But they found the setting. By right clicking and seeing reading aloud. Can I have it read to me. It is a useful feature in many different circumstances. We can also translate built in as well.
I go down to Cortana. How many of you have written an email. I’ll send the file by 4 o’clock and then not send it? Don’t tell me I’m the only one in the room. When I write an email to my boss, Jenny, I say, I’ll let you know by 4. Cortana reminds me at 3.15. We saw that you wrote that and made that commitment. We are going to remind you.
Let’s start thinking how we can take all these features in Office.
And then start applying them specifically to disability solutions. On the physical side, when we see somebody who is blind or has a physical disability. Creating a slide like this, which has a nice embedded graphic, a color across it. It is impossible for many people or too time consumer. We have Designer in Powerpoint. You put some words and a picture and AI does the rest.
Even somebody who is blind can pick the first option. I have professional looking slides. This is a big plus for people with physical disabilities. Dictation is now Office 365. I’m interested in how dictation can be used for young deaf children. We dictate only to the text at the moment. We see a word come up on screen. For very young children. We move to a word it would be possible to dictate to a picture.. We can practice our words to get real effects on the screen. That’s what we have been working on.
Cortana has a voice control. Is it intelligent enough for people who have partial speech? Do you need really clear speech? It can learn the way you speak. And your computer experience becomes more intelligent. And Eye control. To tackle the most useful technologies in disability. We would say, screen readers, eye control. The things with the highest cost associated. Let’s make a built in option amazing. Eye control, we work with Toby. That was about 1000, 1200 to 3000 pounds. We now have eye control in Windows 10. You can buy 150 euro camera. And the computer can be controlled by eyes alone. It is something we can help with.
Innovation. I want to finish with innovation. A little bit of a demo. To show you what we are playing at.
Hearing AI is a hack project in Microsoft.
Hearing AI is an app that will listen to the world around you and visualize it to the screen. It will recognize railways, alarms, fire alarms. It is being designed by deaf employees at Microsoft hacking with the tools. I’m happy to link you in with the teams who are designing this and let you take a look.
To give an idea, I’d like to demonstrate seeing AI.
This is out in Europe and worth a look.
When I talk about innovation, talk about innovation round disability. We don’t want to talk about Me too. There is an opportunity to go further and make tools that are amazing. When we make something amazing it changes the social dynamic.
For people who are deaf. I have worked for 20 years in the field of assistive technologies. I spent my career on my knees next to wheelchairs putting communication aids on the front of wheelchairs. Until I joined Microsoft I didn’t work with people who were blind. I was completely ignorent to everything available for people who are blind. When I saw something who was blind, I would be nervous. And people who are deaf, how do I communicate with those people? It makes people nervous. Unless they are children. Children seem to jump straight in.
Translator, simply translator has changed the way I would communicate to people who are deaf. I actively speak to them. They can see the words that I speak on the screen. They can type in on the screen and we have great conversations. I approach people in my community and made some amazing friends in my town. That’s when technology changes the dynamic. Not the person with the disability who will lead to the engagement. You can talk to your computer and have subtitles. That’s a powerful message that will change how we engage. Seeing AI. I’m on a wireless connection.
I will connect in.

I’d like to show you. Seeing AI is going to speak out loud to me.
As I nove my camera around the room I can see you here.
It has found 5 faces in front of me.
If you are blind, you know there are 5 faces. I know there are people over here.
– 5 faces.
– I’m going to take a photo.
– processing.
– You were the 42 year old.
Why is that useful? Here are the people that I have been speaking to.
You can train it to know that you know. If you have the people in your LinkedIn, you can walk to the cafeteria as a blind person. Move the phone around. It recognizes Jason. 4 feet away. Good morning Jason. That completely changes the social dynamic. Not somebody who is blind waiting. But walking into a room and projecting them in the room. This incredible. It does more than that.
If I look at my name badge here.
(reads text)
It just reads text. Here is my ticket from my bag.
It is reading to me.
I can also scan.
Without pressing a button. It recognized the edges of the document and took the photo and scanned. I can have it read aloud to me. I’m in silent mode.
Next, I can recognize products. It can scan barcodes. I can go to the refrigirator and it will tell me the drinks. It will even..
This is a first. It will recognize handwriting.
Most people are on fonts and text. Microsoft is raising the bar. Let’s move to handwriting and allow you to go into a meeting as a blind meeting and have the information accessible. The printed text. Everything is accessible.
To wrap up, I wanted to make the point.
That is true innovation. We can spend time making Windows and Office more accessible. What we want to do is engage with the community. How can we use the amazing new tools, face recognition, speech to text. How you can help to design tools that changes the social impact and spread the message of accessibility further. Thank you.

Mark: Wow!
I love that in particular, the demonstration aspect. It is not a philosophy. It is something that is here right now. Using AI in interesting ways.
I went to the app store, but I couldn’t find the app you were using. It is amazing that is there. It is beneficial.
– It is in Europe.
– You have it in Europe? I couldn’t see it in the app store.
I’ll have a second look with you.
That’s also beneficial for deaf people with the audio being represented in visual form. If there is an interpreter working. It lets me know what is going in the background. I don’t have to rely on the interpreter to say: is the sound okay? It gives empowerment to use it.

Tutte le pubblicazioni del periodo 2022-2026 sono cofinanziate e prodotte nell'ambito del programma Cittadini, uguaglianza, diritti e valori (CERV) della Commissione europea.

I punti di vista e le opinioni espresse sono tuttavia esclusivamente quelli dell'autore o degli autori e non riflettono necessariamente quelli dell'Unione Europea o del Programma CERV della Commissione Europea. Né l'Unione Europea né l'autorità concedente possono essere ritenute responsabili.

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